They made their first visits to Berlin and London and arrived on Amsterdam airport in the early morning of Friday 7 April 2017. They went immediately to the meeting in the former observatory for atsronomy of Leiden university. Still quite tired!
The whole mission was initiated by Jakob Tobing and Matius Ho of the Leimena Foundation after the Protestant Vice-Prime Minister of Indonesia in the first decade of the independent republic. Financiel and moral support comes from an American conservative Christian organization, Fieldstead and Company, here represented by Steven Ferguson. There was one intriguing question: Why are the radical Muslims so attractive for youngsters? One answer was: because they have much money (from the Gulf States and Saudi supporters). But the opposite answer was here present as well: a war or at least a competition to find supporters between radical and moderate Muslims is als the one between Arabian and Western supporters and funders!
There are in Indonesia thousands pesantren or Islamic boardings schools (a number of 30,000 was given) against only some 30 truly salafi pesantren. There are some 4,000 Indonesian students in al-Azhar, Cairo, an institution where besides some Wahhabi, also quite many liberal Muslims are teaching. In Arabia less than 1000 Indonesian follow academic education. An not all of them turned into Wahhabi activists!
Attractive for Salafi Muslims is the description of the problems. Alwi Syihab formulated it as: 'You Muslims, you are not master of your own country! Islamic values are not guaranteed here!' But Azyumardi Azra reacted: 'Among Salafi Muslims there is also a battle about the definition of what is true Islam.'
Azyumardi blamed corruption as one of the causes: Indonesian economy is stagnant and there is lack of credibility in politicians. Salafi preachers claim that religion will be the solution, but they can never give real evidence for this.
The only woman in the group here was Naima Ajouaau of Not my Religion!, a group and a website against radical Islam in the Netherlands. But she had to give in that her group of activists wanted to give secular education and teaching of the Dutch language to migrant women who in fact wanted knowledge of Arabic and Qur'an reading as well as cheap (salafi) books rather than secular knowledge and liberal Islam.
A new term was launched (at least new for me): Wasatia Islam means Islam of the middle of the road, after the verse of sura 2:143 that the Muslim community should be a group of the middle. It is in the section of the change of Qiblat from Jerusalem to Mecca where Madina is the middle. But it is now also used between secular society and full shari'a state, in fact the Pancasila State.
I repeated the suggestion that moderate Islam has a connotation of tame, not really convinced and enthusiast system of belief. Islam Nusantara may add some nationalist fervor to the Indonesian Muslims. Anyway they do often not really like the Arabs!